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Unity Foundation of La Porte County Announces 2013 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Recipients

Two La Porte County students have been named recipients of full tuition, four-year scholarships as Unity Foundation of La Porte County 2013 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars.

Benjamin Gibbs and Jared Dyjak will receive full tuition to the Indiana college of their choice, and an annual $900 stipend for required books and equipment.

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Ben Gibbs is a South Central High School student and is the son of David and Gretchen Gibbs. He plans to study electrical engineering and return to the county to open a local firm.  Ben has exhibited exceptional service to others, including an overseas and U.S. mission trip, which have broadened his empathy, especially on the issue of world hunger. His activities also reflect passion toward alleviating hunger, including serving meals at soup kitchens and at Ronald McDonald house, working on food drives, and participating in a 30-hour famine through the church youth group.

Ben is a leader at his church and active in numerous school activities, including cheer lifting, student council, student government and Spanish Club. He is the Farm Bureau FFA rep and a tuba player in the band. He also is president of his 4-H club. Golf is a favorite hobby and school sport.

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Jared Dyjak is a La Crosse High School student and the son of Joseph and Michelle Dyjak. He plans to attend Butler University to study pharmacy.  Jared exhibits an entrepreneurial aspect in that he partners with two brothers in a business to raise goats. He is a 10-year 4-H member, currently club president, and has won grand champion doe awards. He mentors others by assisting younger members with animal projects. He also exhibits leadership as captain for school baseball and volleyball teams, and plays basketball.  He’s been a member of and co-math team leader for the school Academic Super Bowl for four years, which placed first last year.

The Unity Foundation received 67 scholarship applications from students throughout La Porte County.  Applicants were judged on their academic achievement, service to others, extracurricular activities and, to a lesser extent, financial need.  A committee comprised of La Porte County residents reviewed the applications, not knowing the applicants’ names until after the finalists were selected.  Twelve finalists were then interviewed, with two becoming the nominees and four becoming the alternates for the awards.  Their names were submitted to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc., for the final selection.

Irene Rosevear, 2013 Chairman of the Unity Foundation Lilly Endowment Scholarship Committee said, The applications submitted this year, were once again, truly outstanding.  The committee had an extremely difficult task in choosing from so many deserving applicants. The students from La Porte County were inspiring in their academic achievements, leadership abilities and dedication to their communities.”

Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) is a nonprofit corporation that represents 31 regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state.

The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach higher levels of education.  Indiana currently ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree. There were 142 scholarships awarded statewide.

Since 1992, the Unity Foundation of La Porte County has served donors, nonprofits and local communities.  As La Porte County’s community foundation, it manages approximately $20 million in assets, administers more than 180 charitable funds, and has distributed more than

$9 million in LaPorte County through direct grants and scholarships.  The Council on Foundations has deemed Unity Foundation in compliance with all Indiana and national ethical and operating standards for community foundations.

Unity Foundation’s mission is to strengthen La Porte County now and forever by:  building permanent endowments; providing leadership; offering philanthropic vehicles for everyone; and, being a catalyst for social and economic vitality.

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